In order to assure future fishing opportunities, all anglers should know and practice sound catch and release techniques.
Why all anglers and not just those who intend to release their catch?
Because most anglers, at some time, will inadvertently hook a fish elsewhere than in its mouth and have to release it. Using sound release techniques will give fish the best chance of survival. Anglers who don't heed the following guidelines greatly increase the odds of a released fish drifting down river to die from injury or stress.
To give released fish the best chance to survive:
n Use tackle capable of pulling a fish in quickly;
n Don't let fish flop in shallow water or on rocks;
n Keep fingers away from gills;
n Never squeeze fish; handle them gently;
n Remove hooks quickly with forceps or long-nose pliers;
n Fish can't breathe when they are out of the water, so keep them submerged;
n If you want to take a picture, hold the fish just at the water's surface while the photo is quickly taken;
n Cut your line if the fish is deeply hooked;
n If a salmon is hooked elsewhere than in the mouth, rather than needlessly tire the fish, break it off;
n After unhooking a fish, face it into the current and support it with your hands until it swims away under its own power; large fish may take several minutes to recover, so be patient.
Sometimes catch-and-release fishing has less to do with what's legal than with what's right and responsible. Anyone who releases a Kenai River king salmon that's pumping blood from torn gills should know the fish almost certainly would die. "What's right" would be killing that fish and writing it on your harvest ticket. Ethical anglers do so even when such a fish is caught during a catch-and-release-only period and must legally be released.
Ethical anglers also know when it's time to stop catching fish. A catch-and-release study on the mortality of Kenai River kings indicated about 10 percent of released kings died prior to spawning. An ethical angler, knowing that, on average, one in 10 of the kings they release will die, would stop fishing after catching 20. Anglers who value Kenai kings as food can harvest only two per year; why should anglers fishing for fun be able to kill an unlimited number?
Give every fish you release the best chance to survive and help insure future fishing opportunities for everyone.
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